Friday, February 26, 2010

Infirmary continues...

David and I went out to dinner last night, since we had a sitter. After dinner, we went to the Apple store to see if they could figure out a problem with his phone. Then we went back to his office to re-synch his phone, which took a while.

And while we were at the office, babysitter called: Sofia was throwing up.

Raced home (and in the midst of everything, totally wiped out David's data, which sucks). Spent all night holding Miss Sofia, who first was barfing (blueberries!), and then pooping every hour.

When David wasn't cleaning up around us, he was frantically trying to fix his phone. So neither of us started to sleep until about 2am.

Sofia seems to be doing a little better this morning, so I left her to sleep with Dada while I drove the boys to school and went grocery shopping. Now I'm home with her.

And neither David nor I feel perfect in the tummy department...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Update on SpEd letter

I got a call first thing this morning from the SpEd Administrator. She had NO IDEA the preschool was trying to charge a registration fee for IEP students! She will be having a long clarifying discussion with the principal today, as to why my letter was absolutely correct and they CANNOT charge IEP students!

Sam and Sofia home, windows all open despite less than 40 degree temp. I have GOT to clear some of these germs out of my house!!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Rothkopf Infirmary expansion

Micah did stay home again today, but I thought Sam was well enough to go back to school. Since David had gotten back from Indiana late last night, he was home to stay with Micah and Sofia while I drove Sam and ran an errand. (And coughed up tons of gunk from my lungs, but at least that's better than having it all stuck there like last week).

Came back, brought Sofia to school, then hung out with Micah...for about an hour, before the day school called ot say that Sam felt like he was going to throw up.

I did ask if he actually HAD thrown up, and I asked that again when Micah and I arrived at school to find a smiling Sam (and no puke). But we took him home.

I texted both my regular sitters to see if either of them could stay with the boys in the afternoon, since Sofia had a preschool program at one of the synagogues and then gymnastics. E texted back that she was at the doctor's office, but could come afterwards (hey, what's one more sick person in this house, right?).

Took Sofia to "Thumbs Up" (what she calls the Yom Tov program at TBA, because the Rabbi does this fun dance called Thumbs Up). She had fun, but she also had goop draining out of her eyes, and she definitely did not look healthy.

So instead of gymnastics, we went back to the pediatrician (you can see the gym from the window in the exam room; she kept looking out and saying "Monkey Gym!"). Anyway, sinus infection.

Dropped her home, raced back out to CVS to fill her prescriptions.

Micah now is FINE, and will most certainly be going back to school tomorrow. I'm still not sure about Sam; he is still very stuffy. Sofia will be home. Sigh.

I am supposed to graduate on June 6 of this year. I cannot graduate unless I finish my Capstone project. I cannot write my Capstone project with all these KIDS in my house!!!!!!!!!!

Micah just came in to say that his room still smells like puke, so all three of them are now in Sofia's room (which is the smallest room in the house). I guess it's time to go clean the carpet in the boys' room...


Appended: I almost forgot, I was An Advocate this week. Seems the preschool was demanding I pay a Registration fee. Here's the letter I sent to the principal, cc to the SpEd coordinator and the State Rep.:

The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has six major principles, and the one that I want to bring to your attention is “Free Appropriate Public Education.” Quoting from Heward’s “Exceptional Children” (9th Edition, page 19): “All children with disabilities, regardless of the type or severity of their disability, shall receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). This education must be provided at public expense—that is, without cost to the child’s parents.”

Recently, the school secretary has requested that we pay the $160 Registration Fee. My daughter Sofia is on an IEP, and in her IEP it does recommend an inclusion preschool classroom. Therefore, the school district is required by law to provide this service.

I spoke today with a representative from the Massachusetts Department of Education’s Special Education office. She confirmed my belief: the public preschool may not charge any fee for a student with Special Needs whose IEP specifies participation in the program. This includes registration fees.

While I am fortunate that my own family is able to afford the $160 fee being requested (and I will gladly make a donation to the school for the wonderful education Sofia has been receiving), there are many in our town who cannot afford even this fee. For some, $160 might mean the difference between a child getting the services he or she needs (and which are specified on an IEP) or spending the year watching TV at Grandma’s house.

The A... Public Preschool cannot require Special Education students to pay a registration fee. The representative at the DOE was most concerned that this fee is for “registration” because she could envision a scenario where a child was denied Special Education services for lack of registration. This would be unacceptable, by law.

While I am sure Mrs. W is simply doing her own job of keeping track of all payments and registrations for the school, I wanted to call to your attention the difference between paying students and Special Education students.

Thank you again for the excellent, nurturing environment you provide for Sofia and for all your students.


Francine Ferraro Rothkopf
, Mother and Special Needs Advocate

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Rothkopf Infirmary is open for business

My ear infection/cough did not get any better, so yesterday morning after I dropped all the kids at their schools, I camped out at my doctor's office for the morning. It's usually not a good sign when the nurse looks in your ear and says "Ew! What's that?!", and then the doctor looks in your ear and says "Ew. You have ear tubes?" but you don't.

So they put me on a different antibiotic, which fortunately seems to be working MUCH better.

Fortunate, because both boys stayed home today. Sam has been stuffy/drippy for a few days, but by yesterday afternoon he had no voice left.

And I was at a lecture (on Executive Function and 5th graders) last night when the babysitter texted me: Micah had started throwing up. So I left the lecture, raced home (quick stop for gingerale and gatorade), and spent the evening cleaning.

And since Sofia had a blood draw in the afternoon (routine, for her regular endocrinology checkup), she'd taken a 2 hour nap, so she was up watching TV until 10 pm. Did you know that Sprout's Good Night Show has a whole half hour On Demand that is simply of various characters SLEEPING?! It was pretty.

So Micah slept in his room, Sam camped out on Sofia's couch (her room gets more humid since it's the smallest), and Sofia slept with me. Except that Micah and I were up every two hours, including when he took a shower at 4pm.

Sofia did go to school today, and Micah stayed home (neighbor watching) while I took Sam to the pediatrician. Not strep, fortunately, just "laryngitis virus", which seemed liked a made-up virus...

Micah did take a very long nap, and he hasn't barfed since early this morning, so hopefully it was a quick bout. And Sofia is busy playing with all her birthday gifts and watching movies.

So speaking of Birthday Parties.... she had a terrific time at hers!

Sofia flyimg on the zip line, with Micah racing along:

She loved her cupcakes:

Lilie helped blow out the candles:

Yum, gluten-free brownie cupcake:

She got some lovely gifts, I'll be working on thank-you notes!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A few birthday pictures

We had a lazy morning on Thursday. Sam and I gave Sofia her presents when we woke up, and she kept going back to the closet (where they had been kept) looking for more!

She got two Barbie fairies and a PJ Sparkles set:

David got home around 12:45, and we raced into Worcester for our 2pm appointment with our friend Liz. Then we had a really really nice lunch at a little cage, Z-Cafe, in downtown Worcester, and then off to the Art Museum.

It was a little difficult with Sofia at the museum. She wasn't so interested in the pictures, and only wanted MAMA to hold her hand or give her a piggy back ride. So I hung out with her while David and Sam browsed and enjoyed. Sofia and I did have some fun in the Discovery Room (although I almost fell asleep in there!):

We got home late, had a light dinner of various leftovers, and then we celebrated with a candle in a bowl of ice cream. She was VERY happy!

Friday morning was lazy again, and then, when our sitter E arrived, we all left, picked up my friend's two daughters, and had a field trip to the supermarket (me, E, and 4 kids...including my little get-away artist). Then we went to Whimsy, this cool "paint-your-own" place. The three bigger kdis and I did projects (they did boxes, and I did a mosaic decoration), while E followed Sofia around all the play spaces.

Got home late, and put up dinner. The kids played on the Wii and had snacks. David and the girls' parents arrived late, but we had a nice Shabbos dinner.

Today, off to shul, including a baby naming for our friends' new daughter. The baby was adorable, staring at the Cantor as he sang. Miss Sofia, however, RAN and RAN and RAN around the sanctuary, making me crazy. I love my shul, and I love how much everyone loves Sofia. But I noticed that only the mothers of kids with Special Needs knew enough to STOP Sofia from escaping; everyone else just let her get through.

Home all afternoon. My folks arrived with Micah around 3, and left about an hour later (they wanted to go shopping). I made 2 dozen cupcakes for tomorrow, and the boys and I decorated them tonight.

I'm a little nervous that people are going to forget about Sofia's party tomorrow. I'm not sure why; maybe just feeling insecure.

I also have to take Sofia to a Purim party in the morning, with a Juggler. She'll love it.

I'm tired. Still not feeling great; ear infection is a little better, but cough still bad. Not a lot of energy. So I am trying to sit still...until I have to do things for my family..

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Baby is 5!

Not quite sure how THAT happened, but in just a few hours, my sweet Principessa, Sofia Phoebe Daniella Rothkopf, will be turning FIVE YEARS OLD!!!!!

It's all a blur. I made a little video of the past year (plus some early pics):

In other ews, it's school vacation week, and Micah is in CT with my parents for the week. He's having a blast. Sounds very happy when I speak to him, and my mom sent some pictures from yesterday's snowstorm - he actually built a snow fort with Pop!

Sam went to my in-laws' for the weekend, but came home with us Sunday night when we dropped off Micah. He's been happy at home, because Laura gave us a Wii (thank you, Laura!), and I took him shopping for a few extra games on Monday. His buddy slept over last night. And he's seen the Percy Jackson movie twice already - once with his grandfather, and then with me and his buddy (and that kid's mom, my friend) yesterday.

Today was a little more boring for him, because all play date plans were canceled due to all mommies being ill (and I now have a double ear infection again, and some breathing problems). Sam had to watch Sofia while I got my hair done, which was a lot of work. But he pepped up when I bought him a Mythology book as a reward.

Sofia has been happy watching Sam play on the Wii and having tea parties with the babysitters (no way was I bringing her to the Percy Jackson movie, and tonight I got to go out with some friends).

Tomorrow, just the four of us, going into Worcester for the afternoon. My folks will bring Micah back on Saturday, and we have a party at "My Gym" for Sofia on Sunday afternoon. She's looking forward to it!

In my free time this week, I've been transferring VHS tapes to DVD with my new toys (some cables and software). Very geeky. Have not worked on Thesis in a few days, but also have not felt well all week (which was why I went to the clinic this evening!).

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow Day?

Really? It's not even an inch yet. Mostly rain. For this the kids got out of school early and everyone panicked and cleaned out the supermarkets?

Oh well. That's New England.

EDIT: I finally finished my play - here it is if you are interested in a silly play about Jewish superstitions...

So I realize I have not posted any photos in a while. Honestly, I have not taken very many recently, and mostly only with my phone, but here goes:

Sam has always be a creative guy, but I think these rank near the top of his achievement list. Numchucks, made out of gloves and tennis balls and a bungee cord rope:

And here is my young warrior, using his "new" (hand-me-down) Sparring Gear for the first time:
(my friend and I forced our sons to spar. They have been taking Tae Kwan Do for 5 years now, you think they'd be more excited about it...)

I love this series of Sofia when my parents came to visit. She is SO tired of the camera!

With Grandma:

Primping at her "dressing table":

And don't forget to Spread the Word to End the Word!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Never EVER a dull moment!

What a weekend! What a week!

I spent most of last week prepping for Friday and Saturday's "Shabbat Yachad", the Day School "Shabbat Together", which was at my own shul.

Of course, I say "most of" but that's not really true. Monday, Sofia missed school due to excessive sniffles, so she came with me to get my thumb stitches out.

Wednesday I had to be "Whimsical" as I was the song leader and story teller for the day school's preschool program, Whimsical Wednesday.

Thursday, I had a funeral to go to, and a shiva to help run. The Office Administrator for the day school lost her husband this week after a seven month fight with pancreatic cancer. The funeral was very moving. After the service, I went straight to her house (instead of to the cemetery) to help set up the food. So that was busy; but my dear friend R was with me, and other ladies I love were also working the house.

Thursday night David and I went out to dinner, since he didn't get home from Florida until midnight Tuesday night.

So Friday was really prepping for the Shabbaton...oh, and first I had my Masters Seminar at my college, and then an hour meeting with my adviser. I guess I'm in good shape on my thesis. She said I have enough material to write a whole book, but she helped me focus for the paper first. I guess I can write the book after I graduate!

Ok. So THEN I worked on the Shabbaton. Tried to have the kids help me set 17 tables, but Sofia kept un-setting, and I made Micah's friend cry (she does cry easily) because they were making pyramids out of the cups and I got somewhat angry...

But everything worked out. Dinner for 159 people was lovely (except that at the last minute we had to move the other family from our table to a "selling" table, so the Rothkopf family ended up alone until the Head of School took pity on us and joined us). Food was great.

Saturday morning was mayhem, but somehow it all worked. Not only were our students reading Torah, but it was also the Religious School's Family Service. So there were two separate services. The "regular" service, where Sam and his classmates were reading, was upstairs in the double classroom. Sam did GREAT! I was so proud of how he read.

Downstairs was complete chaos in the Social Hall for an hour, and then we moved into the sanctuary so our third graders could read Torah for the first time. Oh, and I was also reading, the Ten Commandments. All the kids were terrific!

Then we had lunch for 250 people.

No problem.

I was asleep within 10 minutes of getting home. Two of Sam's friends came home with us, so the kids played. After sundown, another two kids came over, while their parents went with David over to the shiva house. The kids all had a blast.

Sunday, David had to leave early to catch his flight to California. He'll be back Tuesday midnight again.

In the afternoon I took the kids over to the shiva house. Sofia made herself right at home, taking off her shoes and socks and hogging couches and ordering strangers to get her more potato chips. Good thing she's cute!

Then my friend D and I took the kids to the mall. Just hung out, walked around.

And as we were heading back to the car, I got a full-blown migraine aura. So D loaded us into our car, and I had to wait about 10 minutes until I could see well enough to drive.

Was asleep by 9pm.

Today was supposed to be back to normal, start really writing my thesis. Dropped off the boys, stopped at shul to pick up last few things from kitchen, dropped off Sofia, took food to house, worked out, showered, and went to Whole Foods to get lunch and an Internet connection...

... and the school nurse called to say Sam's right ankle really did look different from his left, and perhaps the pediatrician should take a look. Seems Mr. Sam had jumped off the couch on Saturday afternoon, and he was moaning most of last night.

Ok. I was five minutes from school. Called peds, told the we were on our way.

The I had to find someone to get Sofia, since she was supposed to get out at 12:30 and now it was noon.

Took me 8 calls before I found someone who was available. Thanks, J! School was not helpful: "Well, didn't you call the people on your emergency list?" Duh. Of course I did, at least the ones who had access to a car seat.

Anyway, saw the doc, and she sent us over for an xray. Sofia arrived just as we were leaving peds, perfect timing. Off to the hospital.

Sofia charmed everyone she met, and mostly cooperated with holding mine or Sam's hand. Got the xray, found out it was indeed only a sprain. Went down to the ER to learn appropriate use of crutches (he has a field trip tomorrow).

My friend D picked up Micah and brought him home after school, so we've been home most of the afternoon. Hoping for another early night. RIGHT, KIDS?????

Tomorrow morning is Sofia's IEP meeting. So no thesis writing again. Maybe Wednesday...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Personality Differences

For several years, whenever Sam had trouble falling asleep, I could walk him through a "visualization", describing the house and grounds of the villa we rented in Italy when he was 5. He could totally immerse himself in the memory of that lovely place. Sometimes, I would describe some other place, but he never had any problem just relaxing into the scene, and falling asleep.

So Micah just came out of their room, an hour after I said "good night", complaining that he could not fall asleep. Silly me, I tried the same visualization on him.

Granted, he was only two and a half when we were in Italy, but he's seen the photos often enough. He should have a vague grasp of what things looked like. And I do give lots of details (it's supposed to bore them to sleep, right).

Well, Micah is Micah. And instead of relaxing into the scene, he starts asking questions.

"Wait, when you say there are two double beds, how does that work?"
"Why is the cat in the bush?"
"What do you mean, the tub has a seat in it?"

It went on and on. I was laughing so hard! He finally thanked me for the effort, gave me a big hug and kiss, and said he would try again himself to fall asleep.

Oh, they are SO different!